Simone Botha, a cochlear implant user since she was 22 months old, is a professional dancer who was chosen to advertise a brand of gyms around the world. Several months ago, the gym advertising agency edited her cochlear implant, showing society still has a lot to learn about being inclusive and eliminate stigmas.
She posted the photo to her Facebook page and wrote to Virgin: “This is a billboard picture of me posing for Virgin Active and if you don’t know me personally then you won’t miss the tiny piece that is a cochlear implant that is supposed to sit on my head. They just went and without my permission decided to edit the cochlear implant out, because why!!??? It doesn’t fit with their pretty little picture of portraying the perfect life that is Virgin Active? Well guess what? Life isn’t perfect. No one is perfect.”
Virgin Active swiftly removed the edited photograph and had a meeting with the model: “We issued an immediate apology to Simone. We will work with Simone around education and have re-run the campaign, un-retouched. We 100% accept that the action of photo-shopping the image is not in line with our values as a business, nor in keeping with the welcome we extend to everyone.”
During our International Cochlear Implant Day 2018 celebration we want to share this story to raise awareness as Simone says, “Thanks to the Cochlear Implant, there are no limits!”. Her profession related with music is a clear proof of that.
In Europe, 10% of the total population (52 million people) self-report to experience hearing loss, 73% consult a medical professional, but only 50% are referred to hearing care professionals. Hearing loss is a huge problem for the health of Europe’s citizens, threatening to put huge pressure on Europe’s health and social care systems if left untreated. Innovative medical technology, such as hearing aids and hearing implants, can alleviate the burden.
The Cochlear Implant C.I. is a technical aid which helps recuperate hearing function in most complete, profoundly or severe deaf cases of all ages (from babies to old age), by stimulating the acoustic nerve with electric pulses.
We need to change society perspective about us. Cochlear Implant users overcome daily all kind of obstacles, especially communication barriers. We need to increase awareness of hearing loss as a cause of social isolation, depression and deterioration of both mental and physical health for older people and, therefore, of the importance of hearing loss not just for babies or kids, but as well in adulthood and geriatric care.
February 25 has been designated International Cochlear Implant Day because on that day in 1957, two French doctors, Andre Djourno and Charles Eyries were the first to electrically stimulate the auditory nerve by placing an electrode outside the cochlea.
Read about the “Manifesto on Hearing Loss and Disability” on: http://healthfirsteurope.eu/topic/hearing-loss-and-disability/ where EURO-CIU is in coalition with Health First Europe, as well as other organizations related to deafness, ageing, medicine, etc.